Planning a Waterfowl HuntingTrip to Canada

February 13, 2009 by  

By Justin Gatzke

Well, it is getting down to crunch time. We are officially less than two months away from the big waterfowl hunting trip to Canada. Coordinating a hunting trip can be a series of headaches if you let it overwhelm you. There is lodging to find, licenses to buy, trailers to stuff, and so on and so forth. Gaining experience from doing this trip year after year, I thought I would put together an article with a small outline of tips to make the cross country adventure a little easier for a first timer.

Keeping plenty of good notes on not only planning your trip, but during the Canada trip itself.

Keeping plenty of good notes on not only planning your trip, but during the Canada trip itself.

I. The Notebook

Organization is a pretty big key to pulling off a big trip smoothly, especially if there are several guys pitching in for the trip. I use a notebook to record everything. I use it to create a running packing list. There is a page for how much each gas fill up is and who paid for it. Another page keeps track of how many birds have been taken by each person and what species they were. I use it to write down names and phone numbers of farmers who are kind enough to let us hunt. It makes tallying up the price of the trip much easier when you don’t have to dig out receipts for gas and groceries that are floating all around the truck. It is a great organizational tool that fits right in the glove box of the truck.

II. Packing

Packing is one of those things that each person has their own approach. Some people pack everything but the kitchen sink, while others are happy with the shirt on their back and their shotgun. It is a great idea to create a packing list several weeks before your trip. Keep adding to it as things pop into your head while you are day dreaming about the upcoming hunt. It is fun to have everyone get together for dinner a month or so before the trip just to go over who is responsible for what. Keep your packing list in your notebook, and make sure to take notes during the trip on things you wished you would have brought along so you will remember them the next time.

A few things that you don’t want to make your trip without are: spare tires, first aid kit, a 5 or 6 gallon gas can (full), tools, and a tow strap or two.

Dont do your organizing the night before the trip, you will certainly forget something of importance.

Don't do your organizing the night before the trip, you will certainly forget something of importance.

III. The Border



Crossing the border is one of those things that gets everyone on edge a little bit. The last thing you want is to have every single thing pulled out of your truck and trailer and thrown into a pile on the pavement. Being prepared to cross the border will help you out immensely.

  • Make sure everyone has their passport in hand when you pull up to the window. You don’t want to waste their time by having one of your guys searching frantically through their luggage looking for their passport.
  • Know exactly how much ammo you have in the vehicle. You are allowed to bring 200 rounds into Canada duty free, anything over that you will have to pay a small duty on.
  • If you have your dog with you, make sure they are current on all of their vaccinations and have those records easily accessible.
  • In order to bring a firearm into Canada you must complete a firearm declaration form. Have this form completed (but not signed) before you get to the border. That way you don’t have to waste any time looking up serial numbers and filling out the form while you are crossing. The form can be downloaded from the following web page: Canada Gun Forms
  • Make sure that the people on the trip don’t have any kind of a criminal record, including a DUI/DWI. There are ways to be approved to cross if you have had a DWI, but trying to accomplish that while you are at the border crossing station is not a good idea.
  • Stop at the US side of the border before you cross into Canada, and pick up a few of the forms for importing wild game into the US. It is really convenient to have these filled
    out before you cross back into The States when your trip is over.

Knowing how to properly scout in Canada will save you a lot of time and effort

Knowing how to properly scout in Canada will save you a lot of time and effort

IV. Know Your Area



When scouting on your trip, it will be very helpful to have a map of the Rural Municipality (RM) you are hunting. These can usually be purchased at the RM office in the towns you are hunting around. It is a good idea to call the RM office before your trip to see if you can order a map over the phone. This way you can familiarize yourself with the area you plan to hunt, plus you will have one less thing to worry about once you arrive. These maps provide great detail on area water as well as the name of the person who owns each parcel of land. If you notice a field that is starting to hold birds, make a note of it on your map, and check back in the following days to see if more and more birds are using it.

V. Show Your Appreciation

Make time to chat with the farmers and their families. Some of the highlights of past trips for me are the conversations I have had with farmers and their families. Let them know you appreciate them. Invite the farmer and/or his son to join you on a hunt. There are lifelong friendships just waiting to be had. Taking the time to properly thank the farmers who are kind enough to let you hunt will ensure you a place to hunt for years to come.

One last thing to remember is to make the most out of every situation. Bad days can happen, even in Canada. But if you take the time to learn something new from your mistakes it will make you a better hunter. Sit back and take a minute or two to enjoy the incredible show that migrating waterfowl provide. That is truly what it is all about.


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